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 | By Alison Blanchet

The flame lit with a new home and new life

In a somewhat temperamental real estate market, we were surprised to be presented with an opportunity to purchase a home that was ideal for our family. I say “presented” because we weren’t looking, but it turns out that great connections are made at coffee and doughnuts after Mass! It’s an older house with lots of character and quirks.

We were especially perplexed by a metal box in the living room. It jutted out from the wall and looked like something one might find on a pile of scrap metal. Definitely not a look found on Pinterest. We speculated it was a heater from the olden days, but assumed it no longer worked or was needed. We were corrected by neighbors and even the gas company representative who, upon seeing it, assured us that we had a miraculous relic that we’d be grateful for in the winter.

I was skeptical. How much heat does one ever really need in the southeast, where even the coldest day in February usually has a high of 73°?

Fast forward to Christmas Eve of 2022. Pipes and puddles froze. The floors felt like blocks of ice. Our children voluntarily wore coats. The heater could not keep the drafts from creeping in, and we were miserable. Remembering the purpose of the awkward box in the corner, my husband found a lighter, and we gathered round to see what would happen.

The coils burst into flames — safely behind a door — and the relief felt almost instant. The room became so warm we practically needed umbrellas for our drinks. We had no idea of the potential that little heater held.

In the season of Easter, we celebrate Christ’s resurrection, that through his suffering and death we have been redeemed and can look forward to eternity with him in heaven. This message should never cease to inspire us with joy, gratitude and a zeal for evangelization. As I get older and life gets busier, I find myself losing sight of or even forgetting this in the flurry of signing permission slips, packing lunches and canceling that Apple TV trial before I get charged next month.

In the second letter of St. Paul to Timothy, he exhorts, “For this reason, I remind you to stir into flame the gift of God,” reminding us all that “God did not give us a spirit of cowardice but rather of power and love and self-control. So do not be ashamed of your testimony to our Lord” (1:6-7).

The season of Easter — the 50 days following Easter and ending with Pentecost Sunday — is a time we can reflect on what we have been given and how God is inviting us to share this with others. Remembering the dark winter of 2022 and what lighting that heater did for us, I think the image of this gift of God as a flame to be shared with others is fitting. We know that the message of Easter, the message of our salvation, is life saving and for everyone.

Most of us will not share the Gospel in foreign lands or preach to stadiums. But if we are attentive to the people that we interact with every day, we will inevitably encounter those who are battling darkness. Our words and deeds can be a catalyst for encounter and an opportunity for those we meet to encounter the living Jesus.

As this season of Easter begins, it is a bold prayer to ask who, or where, God is inviting us to bring the light of Christ. Could it be your longtime friends that mention that they should try Sunday worship sometime? The coworker who admits that they’re in a difficult season? The stranger with whom you strike up a conversation?

The Easter Vigil will begin with our proclamation that Christ is our light. Where can we bring this beautiful light, this all encompassing warmth, in this season?

Alison Blanchet lives in Panama City with her husband and three children. She works as a therapist for children and teens. Email her at